The New Colonialism’s tentacles are well in place.
As part of the trillion-dollar international development strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese companies have been instrumental in providing artificial intelligence and facial recognition systems to African governments.
In 18 out of the 65 countries assessed by Freedom house, Chinese companies including CloudWalk, Hikvision, and Yitsu had provided technological assistance to governments in creating systems able to identify threats to “public order.”
In Zimbabwe, for example, the Guangzhou-based startup CloudWalk reached an agreement with the government to build a national facial recognition and monitoring system to be placed throughout cities and public transport stations.
There was no vote on the issue in Zimbabwe and, given the rise of China’s invasive social credit system, there are fears that the technology could be used to significantly intervene into the lives of Zimbabwe’s citizens in the future.
Though auspiciously designed to help battle crime, some are concerned that the technology could be used to stifle opposition. In the words of Zimbabwean journalist Garikai Dzoma, “African autocrats […] will no doubt use it to enhance their political positions by hounding opponents.” [snip]
In January 2018 […] African Union officials accused China of hacking its headquarter’ computers every night for five years. Beijing had funded the building in Ethiopia and a Chinese state-owned company built it.
That one of the most prominent political organizations in the continent had been unknowingly sending all of their confidential data directly to the Chinese state certainly raises concerns about the implications of China’s growing influence in the technological infrastructure of Africa.
Emphasis mine. Short response: duh.
(I talked here about a 2020 POTUS candidate who promotes an app similar to China’s social credit system.)
There isn’t much to be done about this from America’s point of view — especially since China has long been in Africa. I’m just lamenting the brevity of the African independence era. But the various African governments brought it on themselves.
As for the invasiveness of government technology here in this hemisphere: don’t get cocky, my fellow Americans.
This government already has its nose in your digital business and is always looking to expand its reach.
Proceed with caution.
Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar or hit Juliette’s!